cir·​cu·​late | \ ˈsər-kyə-ˌlāt How to pronounce circulate (audio) \
circulated; circulating

Definition of circulate

intransitive verb

1 : to move in a circle, circuit, or orbit especially : to follow a course that returns to the starting point blood circulates through the body
2 : to pass from person to person or place to place: such as
a : to flow without obstruction
b : to become well-known or widespread rumors circulated through the town
c : to go from group to group at a social gathering
d : to come into the hands of readers specifically : to become sold or distributed

transitive verb

: to cause to circulate

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Other Words from circulate

circulatable \ ˈsər-​kyə-​ˌlā-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce circulate (audio) \ adjective
circulative \ ˈsər-​kyə-​ˌlā-​tiv How to pronounce circulate (audio) \ adjective
circulator \ ˈsər-​kyə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce circulate (audio) \ noun

Examples of circulate in a Sentence

Blood circulates through the body. Steam circulates in the pipes. A pump circulates the water through the filter. Rumors are circulating around town. The report circulated among the students. Stories were circulated about mismanagement. He is circulating a petition asking for a new election. She circulated among her guests.
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Recent Examples on the Web And, even if some large cities may be reaching herd immunity, there is plenty of space left for the virus to circulate among Russia’s population. Joshua Yaffa, The New Yorker, "Russia Beat the World to a Vaccine, so Why Is It Falling Behind on Vaccinations?," 12 Apr. 2021 As images of National Guard troops circulate online, some in the United States have compared the capital to a war zone. Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, "Protesters find troops circling state capitols," 18 Jan. 2021 As images of National Guard troops circulate online, some in the United States have compared the capital to a war zone. Miriam Berger, Anchorage Daily News, "U.S. pundits keep comparing Washington to a war zone, but people who know war disagree," 17 Jan. 2021 Outrage over Babbitt's death spread among demonstrators on Wednesday night as video footage showing her death began to circulate online. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "The Capitol Police officer, the Air Force veteran, and the Trump super fans: The five who died amid the siege of Congress," 8 Jan. 2021 Other claims made in public circulate largely without being tested. Editorial Wall Street Journal, Star Tribune, "Barr is right: Biden won the election by getting more votes," 3 Dec. 2020 At the same time, posts criticizing those who celebrated Kaepernick’s kneeling and condemned Tebow’s circulate. Devon Link, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Tebow did not kneel to protest abortion before Kaepernick knelt against racism," 26 June 2020 This will also prevent it from blowing dust around and causing debris to land on your furniture or circulate around the room. Popsci Commerce Team, Popular Science, "Best upright vacuum: Clean your house quickly and comfortably," 5 Mar. 2021 The safety of an indoor environment depends in part on its size and ability to circulate and filter air. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, "As basketball cranks up, indoor games seem like 'wrong choice to be making' amid COVID-19," 16 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'circulate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of circulate

1603, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for circulate

Latin circulatus, past participle of circulare, from circulus

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Time Traveler for circulate

Time Traveler

The first known use of circulate was in 1603

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Statistics for circulate

Last Updated

15 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Circulate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for circulate


cir·​cu·​late | \ ˈsər-kyə-ˌlāt How to pronounce circulate (audio) \
circulated; circulating

Kids Definition of circulate

1 : to move around in a course Blood circulates in the body.
2 : to pass or be passed from place to place or from person to person The rumor circulated around the school.


intransitive verb
cir·​cu·​late | \ ˈsər-kyə-ˌlāt How to pronounce circulate (audio) \
circulated; circulating

Medical Definition of circulate

: to flow or be propelled naturally through a closed system of channels (as blood vessels) blood circulates through the body

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Comments on circulate

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